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Old 05-26-2020, 01:51 AM
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Default What surfaces and how much?

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It sometimes looks like any wood object or terra shelf or arch must always be a platform for an epiphyte or plant instead of being available for the frogs to forage over.
I didn't want to divert from SM's very well constructed thread about what people need to forget from keeping fish in aquaria to successfully keep dart frogs in vivaria. But, I did want to directly address this very interesting point by Kmc.

As someone who is essentially new to keeping darts, I am curious about what constitutes feeding surfaces vs. planted surfaces? Do feeders not spend time on planted surfaces? Aren't plants on epiphytic surfaces increasing general surface area? For that matter does leaf litter constitute a feeding surface or a hiding place? Are plants hiding locations? I guess I am curious what the balance is, and whether it varies by species? I'm open to input.
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:36 AM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

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I didn't want to divert from SM's very well constructed thread about what people need to forget from keeping fish in aquaria to successfully keep dart frogs in vivaria. But, I did want to directly address this very interesting point by Kmc.



As someone who is essentially new to keeping darts, I am curious about what constitutes feeding surfaces vs. planted surfaces? Do feeders not spend time on planted surfaces? Aren't plants on epiphytic surfaces increasing general surface area? For that matter does leaf litter constitute a feeding surface or a hiding place? Are plants hiding locations? I guess I am curious what the balance is, and whether it varies by species? I'm open to input.

Leaf litter is both hiding place and feeding location.

Plants can be hiding locations but not always, depends on the plant and how it's setup in the vivarium. Low lying plants sometimes don't provide a hiding place, and if they're not sturdy enough don't present a perching area either, essentially taking up valuable real estate.

On my current build I'm building in some extra wood depth to make hiding places, ledges, etc., and not planting any epiphytes on the slanted piece of wood.


Anyways those are my initial thoughts on this subject
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:43 AM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

When I first read that, I assumed they were referencing enclosures so jam-packed with plants that it actually hinders a frog's ability to utilize the space/ takes up more real estate than the plants provide. In theory more plants would create more usable surfaces, but that's not always the case in practice.

I would guess the thought stems from fish using the "negative space" in a scape (so, with ample empty space provided, plants on every surface would be little hindrance to fish with the benefit of being aesthetically pleasing), whereas frogs utilize the "positive" space and may find it difficult to navigate clusters of plants. edit: I guess a better way to put it would be that frogs have to share the same space as the plants, whereas fish (for the most part) do not.

But that's just my interpretation/ thoughts
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Old 05-26-2020, 06:17 PM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

I guess I would have taken the making the "negative space" useful view in adding plants. Frogs don't float (that I know of), and thus if you put climbable plants in, I would have thought you'd get more usable space for them. Plus the added benefits of hiding places that might make them feel more comfortable.

FishingGuy - Have you found that their feeders will hangout on wood, but not plants? I guess I am unclear why wood is a feeding surface, but not plants.

I'm very much appreciating the input. Thanks both!
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Old 05-26-2020, 06:43 PM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

Flies will disperse and forage on all surfaces available, sponging and swabbing their little way along. There might be tastier areas or areas that encourage 'roosting'.

Surfaces use isnt a mathematical formula, yet perhaps it is. ?. I have observed that behaviors can be happily manipulated and enabled per native tendency, or thwarted by inattention or ideology.

I do not think plant cluster always equates spatial value for subject.

It seems humans have a tendency to diorama-ize habitats. Condense and miniaturize aspects in an aesthetic.

This is why wild in situ photos and video are so invaluable. imo
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Old 05-26-2020, 07:02 PM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

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if you put climbable plants in, I would have thought you'd get more usable space for them.
The word that is doing all of the work here is 'climbable'.

Take a look at many viv pics here and pick out the ones that seem most packed with plants. At least half of those, I'd estimate, are packed with mostly or only plants that are useless, even detrimental, to the frogs that are housed in that viv.

Take leucs for example (because they are common and I have a pair so I know how they behave). Clubmoss and other soft feathery plants aren't climbable by them at all, of course. Neither are all the small-leaved climbers/shinglers such as the creeping Ficus species, Marcgravia (especially but not only smaller-leafed species), nor some creepers with slightly larger/stronger leaves such as Pellionia repens, Begonia glabra, and the like. Leucs (and similarly built darts, I suppose) struggle badly to deal with those sorts of ubiquitous plants. Neither do my leucs interact with Neoregelia much at all -- when they do, the frogs look like fish out of water, not sure how to deal with such a stupidly shaped surface. A lot of wasted space, that the frogs avoid, when using these very common plants for leucs.

I think two factors will save a decent viv designer from plant-related problems like we're talking about here. One: knowing plants. Many people choose plants on the basis of price, appearance ("whoa, this one has purple flowers!"), and availability; none of these factors matter at all to the frogs that have to live with those plants every day. I'm guessing you'll have no problems choosing plants on appropriate criteria.

Two: knowing frogs. This one is harder. All those points I made about leucs up there? Yeah, my leucs are getting a new viv; they're done suffering through the first poorly designed one, poorly designed by someone who didn't know much about frogs when he built it. Take some comfort in knowing that, at least IMO, thumbnails are far easier to design vivs for (since they can exploit many, many types/shapes/habits/species of plants that larger, less agile frogs cannot). At any rate, as always, if a person prioritizes learning about frogs over learning about vivs, I think the viv will turn out better.
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Old 05-26-2020, 07:12 PM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

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I guess I would have taken the making the "negative space" useful view in adding plants. Frogs don't float (that I know of), and thus if you put climbable plants in, I would have thought you'd get more usable space for them. Plus the added benefits of hiding places that might make them feel more comfortable.



FishingGuy - Have you found that their feeders will hangout on wood, but not plants? I guess I am unclear why wood is a feeding surface, but not plants.



I'm very much appreciating the input. Thanks both!
Actually, in two of my vivariums (vivaria?) , that is what I've observed.

I've noticed a preference for flies to climb onto coco huts, and stand there/perch , rather than on adjacent plants.

I think the point that KMC was making was that people have a tendency to over-plant their vivariums. (Please correct me if I'm wrong) . I think there's a balance to be found between planting levels and open a u levels.

My favorite example of open space is my Ranitomeya sirensis tank. It's 18x12x36"(tall). The frogs routinely make use of the empty space to jump from cork bark wall to bromeliads that are growing in the open (having grown outwards from the side wall), or skipping the broms entirely and going from cork wall to glass wall in a jump. They're also my most likely to be found rooting through the leaf litter for extra flies. This tank particularly has a lot of flies that climb up the pieces of wood.
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Old 05-26-2020, 08:09 PM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

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It seems humans have a tendency to diorama-ize habitats. Condense and miniaturize aspects in an aesthetic.
Agree. And guilty.

It seems like actual forest floor is mostly a mixture of leaf litter and woody rubble. Live plants provide cover from above, but not much in the way of “jungle gyms” the way we often think of with vivaria.

I think “woody rubble” probably provides a lot of useable space and might be the most missed aspect of viv setup.

Too many people think a tiny flat pile of live oak = leaf litter check box.
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Old 05-26-2020, 10:45 PM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

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I think “woody rubble” probably provides a lot of useable space and might be the most missed aspect of viv setup.
This is a great observation. I'd like to add that woody rubble with holes in it (larger crevices as well as hollows such as cork tubes) provide even more space. The majority of my vivs have cork tubes as major design elements, and the frogs spend much time in them.
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Old 05-27-2020, 12:04 AM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

This has all been really interesting and informative. Thanks everyone!

I'm curious about a couple things. First off, "dioramaize" absolutely needs to be a word. I've added it to the dictionary on my computer. I suspect you are correct, Kmc, that this tendency is mostly driven by search for a specific aesthetic. But, let me play a bit of devil's advocate here for the moment. Is it possible it is necessary at some level? I mean we keep these frogs in artificially dense conditions, do we not also need to then make the food availability greater on a per area basis, and the number of hiding/calling places? These things too seem like a component of the dioramazation of the dart frog viv. Just curious.

The "woody rubble" comment is really interesting too. I'd been planning on using resin rocks (lighter), and wood liberally to create to create a sort of usable heap with holes and crevices of appropriate size for frogs to use. However, I'd been thinking of using cypress driftwood. Recently though I notices a few folks talking about how cypress knees degrade rapidly. This has me concerned as I had understood cypress wood to be rot resistant, but now I suspect I should go with something else. Are there other good options besides cork? Don't get me wrong, I think cork is great, and I like the idea of supporting cork harvest. But, would something like Malaysian driftwood work too? It holds up in aquaria. Just curious.

FishingGuy - That second tank is so open! I'm still trying to process it. It is so different than what I see in most photos.

SM - Don't think I won't mess up with plantings! While I feel I have a handle on the plants, the interactions between frogs and plants seem another issue entirely to me. I'd have totally guessed a sturdy brom would have been appreciated by tincs. Shows that I know. I would have guessed this perhaps in part because the ones on my deck have yet again been colonized by the local grey tree frogs. They have no context for them, but they find them astoundingly quickly and in impressive densities. Good to know thumbs might be easier for veg! Does make me want to try larger frogs some day. See if I can get it right.

Thanks again everyone!
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Old 05-27-2020, 01:42 AM
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It's actually just one tank, showing the two angles.

It's a tank I quite like, I repurposed an aquarium and made it vertical and built a door with hinges. I used plants I had found that the frogs would use/enjoy.

With my current build, my plan is for the plants to either be:
1. A plant that'll provide shade/cover from above
2. A plant that will be used as a perch for the frogs
3. Both 1&2
4. Vining plants for a very limited area of the background.
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Old 05-27-2020, 03:34 AM
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Watching patterns of locomotion and observing the acuity of their choices, is fascinating, and no less beautiful as their colors. Its pleasant to enable them to utilize their gifts.
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Old 05-27-2020, 12:47 PM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

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It seems humans have a tendency to diorama-ize habitats. Condense and miniaturize aspects in an aesthetic.
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I'm curious about a couple things. First off, "dioramaize" absolutely needs to be a word. I've added it to the dictionary on my computer. I suspect you are correct, Kmc, that this tendency is mostly driven by search for a specific aesthetic. But, let me play a bit of devil's advocate here for the moment. Is it possible it is necessary at some level? I mean we keep these frogs in artificially dense conditions, do we not also need to then make the food availability greater on a per area basis, and the number of hiding/calling places? These things too seem like a component of the dioramazation of the dart frog viv. Just curious.
I took 'dioramaize' to refer to the practice of making a viv look like a shunken-down snapshot (well, actually a well-composed photograph, with all the shadows and mysterious mist and the sun rising through lianas, and maybe if you squint you can see the aboriginal hunters readying their darts for the morning hunt) of someone's idea of a rainforest. I think what you're saying, Apoplast, about maximizing usable area is something different and laudable. This is just semantics, though (well, it may well turn out that everything anyone has ever said is just semantics, but that's a discussion for another day...)

As a kind of example, take a look at this dart habitat photo:

https://ibb.co/6HDG4h2

(Tijl was kind enough to link to it; here is that post: https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/ge...ml#post3082644)

The pic labeled (a) strikes me as a fine model for a functional viv: lots of litter, a chunk of hardscape with hiding areas within and under, lots but not too much plant cover (climbable? perhaps not for all frogs, but you get the idea). It is distinctly not a diorama, if I'm understanding the term -- no waterfall, no wall of plants (it is practically impossible to find a pic of darts in habitat that features a wall of plants), no skillfully contrasting shapes and textures. It is just a bunch of weedy looking plants with a stick dropped in the middle, and I think it has all the elements a good viv needs.
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Old 05-27-2020, 04:26 PM
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As a kind of example, take a look at this dart habitat photo:

https://ibb.co/6HDG4h2
So much woody rubble!

I don't have much gripe with plant covered walls. With enough macro-texture and proper plants, I think it's usable area for smaller frogs, and not totally unusable area for larger frogs. As long it we keep the availabe floor space in mind.

And I will freely admit part of the draw, for me, is the aesthetics of vivaria.
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Old 05-27-2020, 05:04 PM
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I like wood: branch/root/log/ being a significant surfaces component. It is varietal and offers opportunities in physicality. Which is why I like cork bark so much, it cuts the mustard wood wise and so many pieces have interior+exterior dimension; cavern+climb.

I by no means am knocking plantlife or its perfect embrace in moist micro clime.

I am currently hunting for another plant besides the pothos whos leaves could support the aprox weight of a quarter, as Ms Mandelbrot likes to sit on leaves, and she's a big girl. The environment is dominant with cork tubes and hollows there is no room for anything gratuitous, and the cover aspect is fulfilled. A firm and climbable, perchable plant is a goal I have for the env.
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Old 05-27-2020, 05:07 PM
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Hi SM - In terms of diorama, which I agree could easily become a purely semantic discussion that I will guess no one wants to read (though I'd quite enjoy discussing the semantics of whether all arguments are semantic sometime with you - over whisky), I think there are a couple types of dioramas. There are those that are miniatures, like military miniature dioramas, and there are those that are "slice of life" dioramas that can either be of increased display density or replicas of a potentially real scenario. For the latter I think of how natural history dioramas have evolved over the years from something just jam packed to something that one might see in situ. In this case both have value, and I suspect both are things we need to consider with living subjects. I certainly want my collembolla to look more like the former, but would think doing the same thing with the frogs would be tragic.

For the habitat, I think perhaps similar considerations are in order. The photo you showed is fantastic, and I can see a viv looking just like that. That said, and frog spending time in the area of the photo (which I suspect is a larger area than most vivs to begin with) will also go elsewhere nearby. All I am saying is that perhaps giving them, say, more options for egg laying sites than the 2 in the photo might be beneficial. Similar for hiding places. I would think that miniaturizing or perhaps more accurately "densifying" some aspects of their natural habitat could be useful. I know you aren't really arguing otherwise as you stated the photo has "elements" of good viv design. And with that I fully agree.

One of your statements in a previous post did make me realize a serious pitfall that I will struggle with. You mentioned that prioritizing learning about frogs over vivs will result in better viv design. I think you are likely correct, but it's hard not to see the aesthetic possibilities in the end results of a dart viv and not get a bit mesmerized. I don't think this happens as easily with something like a snake rack. But I think it is a real challenge when setting up a little living bit of rainforest (if not how people picture it necessarily) is part of the process. It's tempting to make that a critical part of the goal even if the needs of the frogs get pushed partly aside. I know I am excited about some of the plants. How could I not be. But I will try to keep in mind the challenge should be making the right plant selections for the frogs, and then having it look good within those parameters.
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Old 05-27-2020, 05:39 PM
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I like wood: branch/root/log/ being a significant surfaces component. It is varietal and offers opportunities in physicality. Which is why I like cork bark so much, it cuts the mustard wood wise and so many pieces have interior+exterior dimension; cavern+climb.



I by no means am knocking plantlife or its perfect embrace in moist micro clime.



I am currently hunting for another plant besides the pothos whos leaves could support the aprox weight of a quarter, as Ms Mandelbrot likes to sit on leaves, and she's a big girl. The environment is dominant with cork tubes and hollows there is no room for anything gratuitous, and the cover aspect is fulfilled. A firm and climbable, perchable plant is a goal I have for the env.
Peperomia obtusifolia holds up to my Adelphobates galactonatus jumping on it. They must weigh more than a quarter ;-).
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Old 05-27-2020, 06:09 PM
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Peperomia obtusifolia holds up to my Adelphobates galactonatus jumping on it. They must weigh more than a quarter ;-).
A Canadian quarter weighs 4.4 grams; an American quarter 5.7g. That plant won't work here in the US.

https://www.reference.com/business-f...f643fda9379508
https://www.usmint.gov/learn/coin-an...specifications
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Old 05-27-2020, 06:16 PM
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What???????????
I'm in disbelief
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Old 05-27-2020, 06:18 PM
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What???????????
I'm in disbelief
Of the fact that even the coins in the US are overweight?
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Old 05-27-2020, 06:45 PM
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I need something on the dryer side.
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Old 05-27-2020, 07:23 PM
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Of the fact that even the coins in the US are overweight?
Yes. Actually
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: What surfaces and how much?

There's a lot to unpack in this thread. I think the diorama-ization (take that, Webster!) question is really interesting. I refer to the habitats that I create as "hyper-real." You simply can't recreate nature to any significant degree in a normal-sized tank (though some might argue with me on that). Being a geographer, I always come back to spatial scale. The scale of nature can't be shrunk down to fit into our tanks - definitely not in terms of ecosystem function, but I think this even holds true of aesthetics. The rainforests that the majority (all?) of our critters come from are complex and enormous. There is no way to simulate the scale of multiple canopy layers, the dynamics of lighting through the course of a day, the interaction between native organisms, etc.

What we are doing in our tanks, I think, is simulating with functional equivalents. We don't have giant tree trunks for the frogs to climb, but we have the walls of the tank however we choose to dress them up. We don't have multiple canopy layers, but we have hardscape and taller plants that create shadows. We do have branches and leaf litter, but it's not entirely the same as what would be present in nature (I wonder what a wild frog would do with a Manzanita branch from a Mediterranean-climate Chaparral community dropped into his environment). I guess my point is that we can't recreate nature, but we can try to simulate the aspects of nature that our frogs interact with in a manner that makes them as comfortable as possible.

Within that mandate, I think there is a ton of room for interpretation and I think that how the tank looks is a perfectly viable way of making those decisions (assuming that the welfare of the frogs is accounted for first). I have a certain way that I like my tanks to look. Other people look at my tanks and think "how can he think that looks good?" I think that there are lots of different ways that people can solve the nature-to-vivarium transition problem, many of which are equally good for the frogs. I like my "hyper-real" (which I define as taking the elements of nature and pulling them all into a space that would never exist in nature because of scale) approach, others may try to simulate an actual square meter of rainforest. I believe both approaches are defendable, as long as the frogs come first in terms of priorities.

Hope this fits in the thread ok, Alex. If not, here you go - I think feeding zone vs. plant substrate is a false dichotomy and that many, if not all, of the spaces in our tanks can be used for both ;-)

Mark
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Old 05-29-2020, 03:53 PM
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The word that is doing all of the work here is 'climbable'.
[...]



Take leucs for example (because they are common and I have a pair so I know how they behave). Clubmoss and other soft feathery plants aren't climbable by them at all, of course. Neither are all the small-leaved climbers/shinglers such as the creeping Ficus species, Marcgravia (especially but not only smaller-leafed species), nor some creepers with slightly larger/stronger leaves such as Pellionia repens, Begonia glabra, and the like.
Your examples are good for Leuc's, but those same plants are usable for other species.
I have Pellionia repens in with my Ranitomeya amazonica's , and they do climb up the leaves and where the plants are drifting away from wood support, the frogs use the horizontal leaves as perches.

I think the point is, plants need to be chosen with the specific frogs in mind. What works in one tank may not work for other species of frogs.

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